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René Van Someren

EMOP as a leadership/followership guide: #1 / 5 - Width

As a leader, you want your followers to behave a certain way, to reach certain goals.

Followers look at their leaders for Guidance, Assurance and Support.

  • By giving guidance or direction, leaders explain to their followers what they expect from them.

  • Assurance tells followers if they are doing the right things and if they are doing that correctly.

  • Leaders’ support should clear the way for followers and provide followers with the resources they need.

An important part of assurance stems from feeling appreciated by ones peers and leaders.

Why would workers make an effort if their boss does not appreciate what they are doing?

To give appropriate guidance, assurance and support, leaders need certain information. After all, how can a leader …
  • … guide others to certain goals without knowing where they are, relative to that goal?

  • … give assurance without knowing whose behaviour caused certain results?

  • … support followers without knowing what stands in their way, or without knowing what they need?
Leaders can turn to many indicators. Examples of such indicators in organisations are production rates, sales figures, turnover, absentee rates, complaints, and overt internal conflicts. However, those indicators tend to point at consequences and not at underlying causes.

When, for instance, production rates drop or employee turnover rates rise, apparently something went wrong. Could it be that certain organisation members did not behave as they should have done? How will you steer them in the right direction, support and assure them without knowing why they behaved as they did?

Obviously, leaders could ask their followers. They can do so on a one-on-one basis in teams or small organizations. When questioning more organization members they can ask them collectively, for instance by means of a survey. In practice, leaders tend to use such surveys to ask organisation members: “How are you?”, or “How do you feel?” (Job satisfaction surveys). Those are very important questions. Leaders should interpret that information well and use it properly. However, such questions will not fully answer the question: “Where are you now, relative to certain goals?”

Furthermore, when asking someone: “How are you?” you will not receive an absolute answer. If you are lucky, the person answering your question will tell you how he or she feels, relative to his/her expectations. Often, people will not even give you that information, but instead tell you what they wish to share with you, depending on their attitude at that moment. Someone who does not want to burden others with his or her minor problems, or who wants to keep it light might answer: “Fine, thank you.” despite of feeling less than fine.

It would also make little sense to ask employees if they work hard, or if they do their best at work, since such self-reported measurements tend to be highly unreliable. Just as any other measurement …

… self-reported measurements should be reliable, valid and relevant.

To achieve this, as a leader, you could start by looking at your objectives. Leaders want, and often expect organisation members to behave a certain way relative to certain organisational aspects. Since humans’ attitudes are the main determinants of human behaviour, it seems useful to measure certain attitudes in organisation members to get some indication of their behaviour. Being selective, by focusing on key organisational aspects, is essential in getting relevant information from this.

We believe that our organisational scans are ...
  • … Reliable, since they focus on measuring actual attitudes;

  • … Relevant, since they are based on EMOP (the Elementary Model of Organisational Processes) which relates to key variables of all organisational processes in all organisations;

  • … Valid, since data is collected from the main source.
Valuable information can be obtained by not only asking organisation members questions, such as: “How are you?” but also: “Where are you?” and even: “How am I doing, as your leader?”, and examining how those aspects relate to one another, in the hearts and minds of organisation members.

Leaders can use this information to draw up a road map to leadership excellence, indicating who to guide where to; who, when and why to give assurance and how and when to support which organisation members.

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